Nice coastline at sunset

(3:50 p.m. EST) -- Celebrity Cruises is launching a new series of shore excursions that focuses on offering small groups a more in-depth experience in port. Ranging from off-the-beaten path adventures to tours of must-see locales, the excursions (limited to 24 people) are part of the line's new Celebrity Discovery Collection.

"My last visit to the gorgeous Western Mediterranean acted as the inspiration behind the new Celebrity Discovery Collection tours," said Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises. "We were so inspired by the many hidden gems we were exposed to during our time exploring this stunning region, and wanted to offer our guests these truly unique, behind-the-scenes, exclusive experiences; and thus the Celebrity Discovery Collection was born."

The first tours in the Discovery Collection will be offered in the Western Mediterranean, with more tours being added globally throughout 2018.

According to Susan Bonner, vice president of revenue management and onboard revenue for Celebrity: "We wanted to design a fresh collection of excursions that would immerse guests into the various inspired locales we visit throughout the Western Mediterranean and give them more of a taste -- literally -- of what the region has to offer, with destination- and culinary-focused experiences. From cherished icons and famous landmarks to fabulous restaurants and more, these experiences were carefully curated to help small, intimate groups delve deep into the region like never before."

Among the tours will be the "French Day Experience" in Nice and St. Paul de Vence, which includes a visit to a 17th century underground vault and wine ship in Old Nice, lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant, and a visit to the walled city of St. Paul de Vence. During the "Italian Pasta Experience," participants will tour the famed Martelli pasta factory and watch a pasta-making demonstration at Torre a Cenaia in Tuscany. In Spain, a music-themed tour will take cruisers to a live concert of medieval music at Barcelona's Secret Basilica.

Tours will operate on European sailings between April 27, 2018 and November 10, 2018; they are open for booking now. 

--By Dori Saltzman, Senior Editor